Fri. Dec 6th, 2019

How is Business Different in Japan?

4 min read
He found that all the employees on his floor were at work until 8 pm. This went on for more than two weeks. My friend was quite taken back by this as it's literally unheard of in America that people work beyond office hours for so long.

He found that all the employees on his floor were at work until 8 pm. This went on for more than two weeks. My friend was quite taken back by this as it’s literally unheard of in America that people work beyond office hours for so long. Out of curiosity, he asked his secretary what the pay was for over time. He assumed that all those

employees were working for more pay. You can imagine his shock when his secretary told him that they all were working because he was working! This was his first lesson in the Japanese business world.

He later went on to take a break at 6 p.m, go for a stroll around his office block, drink some tea and come back to the office well after 7 p.m if needed. The floor was empty. He eventually took to an active social life outside the office and really didn’t have to stay beyond 6 pm.

This is a very simple example of the differences in the world of business in the West and the East. The differences do extend over and above work timings.

Intrinsic Differences

Japanese people and their culture are very different from the west. Being polite, maintaining absolute cleanliness, arriving on time, not to forget the boring down to a certain degree for a certain purpose is all very intrinsic to the Japanese people. The same qualities naturally transcend to their business.

Engaging in any kind of business deals with a list of Japanese companies can really lead to unexpected outcomes if you approach them from an American point of view. For instance, Americans do not hesitate to express what is exactly on their mind. The Japanese, on the other hand, indicate rather than say things directly.
There might be a huge list of companies in Japan, but all of them are guided by these intrinsic differences.

Business Meetings

Business meeting with any one entity from a Japanese trading companies list is a unique experience for any westerner. In a typical American meeting, the people present will be the ones who are needed and have a say in the topic discussed. They might also be people who have a role to play in the meeting or will get affected by the result of the meeting. The same can not be said of a business meeting with Japanese.

Any meeting with the Japanese will see a bunch of people from the Japanese side. The group may sometimes even stretch to 20 members. Not everyone in this group of 20 might have a role to play too in the meeting. They are all primarily sent to know everything there is to know in the meeting. The meeting itself is not the place for any kind of decision making.

If you are attending a business meeting with a client from your Japan company list, know for sure that the less you say will add more meaning to your meeting. Do not be in a rush to arrive at decisions in a single meeting. Most important, have patience and stay polite.

business lead generation

Group Consensus and Team Spirit

Japan as a country is known for its team spirit. Some of the best team and group strategies have originated here. Decisions made in any Japan company are not made by a person; they are made by a group. This group consensus is highly valued. This is also one of the reasons why Japanese business meetings do not result in a decision immediately. It’s not common knowledge that you can pick up a contact from a Japan business directory and plunge into a business deal. The deal can go forward only if the group heading the company arrives at a consensus; otherwise, it’s a no-deal!

Japanese teams are closely knit. Any praise or feedback given is considered for the whole group. Praising a particular individual for a good quality might seem logical to an American, but for Japanese, it is embarrassing.

japanese business team spirit

Unspoken Communication

If you have built a successful Japan business database of clients, you know the value of unspoken communication. The Japanese give a lot of importance to body language, gestures, nuances, non-verbal actions or any kind of visual clues. They are good at interpreting them and would love it if you don’t verbalize everything too. They feel offended that their guest had to say it to get it.

Art of Saying No

Business Negotiation. The Japanese are non-confrontational. For example, do you disagree with this? Group decision-making and consensus are important. Written contracts are required. The Japanese are experts at saying no without actually saying it. It is no exaggeration to say that they have made saying ‘No’ an art form in itself. If you do not understand the indications that are clearly no, you might end up losing on time and not even know it. Some common ways of saying no are:-.

• Quote an exorbitant price for something that is not that valuable.

• Maintain golden silence on a particular topic but are open to communication on all other topics.

• Change of conversation every time the topic of interest is discussed.

• Giving a totally unrelated solution to the topic of discussion.

These are some of the ways they say no. I hope you don’t encounter these in your business meetings.

Japanese businessmen may come across like conservative and old-fashioned, but if you have the patience and persistence to crack a deal with them, you have an ally who will deliver high on quality. The same differences in doing business may very well prove to be your best advantages!


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